By Jill Riebesehl
Three main issues dominated Hosford-Abernethy Neighborhood Association’s concerns this winter, none of which required action from the board, which holds elections in May. All are welcome to throw in their hats; there are several open seats, as the by-laws allow 20 people to serve.
In March, City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty addressed a small group of SE neighborhoods ahead of her Town Hall for all the city’s neighborhoods. One of her bureaus is Community & Civic Life, which oversees the neighborhood system. She assured us of her respect for neighborhoods and their role in city government and said she won’t follow through on the previous commissioner’s efforts to remove NAs from city code. When asked by participants in both meetings what was on their minds, houselessness dominated, concerns which she fielded with patience, knowledge and recognition of the wide frustration.
Regarding train-track crossings, HAND chair Chris Eykamp reported on discussions during an ad hoc railroad subcommittee that includes HAND and Brooklyn NAs, the Eastside Industrial District and people knowledgeable of Union Pacific rail use. Despite Tri-Met’s contribution to UP’s automated switches, wait times for vehicles crossing the tracks at SE 8th Ave. have increased, sometimes lasting hours. Neighbors are wondering how that is going to affect Tri-Met’s brand new Division transit project. We are hoping a Tri-Met rep will be at HAND’s next meeting, Tuesday, April 20.
Catholic Charities and St. Philip Neri briefed us on their progress for affordable housing on the parish’s campus. Changes reported differ from an initial open house held about a year ago. As it stands, after sufficient funds have been secured and various permits granted from the city, building could start in the summer of 2022. The plan now includes 38 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom units. Only one building, the classroom, will be demolished. Planners at this point see a piazza off SE Tamarack Ave. and they welcome input from the community.
Montavilla Neighborhood Association
By Jacob Loeb
Commissioner Mingus Mapps joined the March 8 Montavilla Neighborhood Association meeting to speak with attendees. He outlined ambitions for his first term and presented three projects underway within his bureaus. The Commissioner acknowledged the COVID-19 related damage to Portland’s prosperity, but provided an optimistic call-to-action for community members.
Commissioner Mapps oversees the bureaus of Water, Environmental Services and Emergency Communications. Three initiatives stood out as examples of the public benefit coming from those agencies. From the Water Bureau, Portland is further protecting its water sources from contamination through a new water treatment plant. This project will ensure that our historically clean water will not suffer from future wildfires or bacterial infections. Keeping with clean water, Mapps shared information on the Super-Fund cleanup of the Willamette River. That project will begin soon and last for over 10 years, reducing pollutants left by industry. The Commissioner was most excited about developments around Portland’s Street Response Team. That pilot program sends out specialists in mental health and houseless issues on some 911 calls instead of a police officer. Although early in the program, he shared examples of notable successes in conflict-free resolutions by the team.
Commissioner Mapps next moved the conversation beyond his assigned responsibilities to issues affecting all of Portland. His top priority is building a COVID-19 recovery plan that will stabilize small businesses. “We have lost a decade of growth in the restaurant industry in the last year,” explained Mapps. He wants the city to be active in supporting those businesses affected by the shutdown. When the eviction moratorium ends, Mapps cautions Portland could see a new wave of houselessness, further stressing an overloaded system. His recovery efforts aim to lessen that impact of newly unsheltered and keep people in their homes.
Cleaning the city is second on Commissioner Mapps’ agenda to revive Portland. He sees the neighborhood associations as a crucial part of the citywide cleanup. The Commissioner recognized and complimented the efforts of MNA’s Clean Team and the work of SOLVE. However, more volunteers are needed. He sees the hiring of former-mayor Sam Adams by Mayor Wheeler as an excellent jumpstart to the city cleanup efforts and looks forward to working closely with Adams.
Public safety is the final piece needing immediate attention within Portland. The city had seen a consistent decline in shootings before COVID-19. “In the last year, we have given back 30 years of progress,” commented Mapps. He is hopeful that new departments in the police force will change the tide of gang-related shootings. However, he seeks a non-militarized approach to policing, focused on prevention. After school activities and the return of community programs outweigh policing in the Commissioner’s strategy for improved public safety. “If you are out doing something constructive, then you are not out doing something destructive.”
The full recording of the meeting is available at montavillapdx.org/pdx-mna-meeting-podcast. The next Montavilla Neighborhood Association meeting is Monday, April 12, 6:30 pm. Register for the online Zoom meeting at montavillapdx.org.
Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association
By Stephanie Stewart
At the March MTNA meeting attendees expressed alarm that City Council is poised to approve an Open Space Code change that will allow homeless camps in public parks. Taxpayers have generously funded city parks with the intention that they be green spaces open to everyone in need of relief from the dense city. Turning parks into residences allows a new, highly intense use by one group that will be present 24 hours a day. We voted to request City Council extends the education and comment period for this change, as much confusion remains. We also voted to sign a letter, written by park advocates, objecting to camps in parks in any case other than a natural disaster.
MTNA will host a community meeting on Zoom on Wednesday, April 21, 7 pm. Board Elections will be held on Wednesday, May 19. Find links for this and all of our meetings, under the “Meetings and Events” tab of our website, mttaborpdx.org. MTNA also creates a monthly newsletter about important civic issues, which you can find on our website next to each month’s meeting minutes.
North Tabor Neighborhood Association
By Kim Kasch
March’s meeting centered on a presentation about air quality by Greg Bourget of Cascadia Action. North Tabor, being alongside I-84, is especially affected by diesel particulate pollution and the Neighborhood Association will cooperate with his organization to monitor and provide data for ongoing studies of the problem (for more info, go to portlandcleanair.org).
Our next meeting will be Tuesday, April 20, 6:30 pm, via Zoom, and will feature a presentation on household emergency preparedness. Go to our website for the link: North Tabor Neighborhood Association.
Richmond Neighborhood Association
By Allen Field
The RNA meets the second Monday of the month, 6:30 – 8:30 pm. Everyone is welcome. Agendas are posted on richmondpdx.org and sent out via the RNA Announce listserv. Recordings of the monthly meetings are available on the RNA website. Meetings will be via Zoom until further notice. Preregistration is required; the link to preregister is on the agenda. To be added to the RNA’s listserv, email email@example.com. The agenda request form is on the RNA’s website.
The monthly meeting was held March 8. Unfortunately, Multnomah County Commissioner Vega Pederson cancelled. She will be rescheduled for another meeting.
The Board voted to send a letter to the Multnomah Co. DA about the increased level of vandalism in the city and on Hawthorne Blvd. The Neighborhood Response Team Officer in attendance explained that a DA was assigned to the Hawthorne vandalism event and it is being pursued very seriously.
The Board discussed the Hawthorne Fred Meyer’s land use application to remove their south-side entrance on Hawthorne. The RNA voted at its March 8 meeting to inform Fred Meyer that it plans to oppose the removal of the south-side entrance.
The annual RNA Board election will be Tuesday, May 11, 6:30-8:30 pm in the parking lot of Waverly United Church of Christ, SE 33rd and Woodward St., where the RNA normally meets. Like last year, people can vote in-person or fill out PDF ballots and drop off their ballots at the election site. (People can drop off only their own ballots.)
Eight two-year seats are up for election. The deadline to announce candidacy for a board seat is the end of day Monday, April 12, the day of the RNA’s April meeting. You can announce via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or at the April 12 RNA meeting. At the May 10 RNA meeting, candidates will give brief candidate statements. COVID-19 protocols will be observed. We had a very good election turnout last year and expect the same this year.
On March 4, the RNA along with the Hosford-Abernethy, Creston-Kenilworth, Kerns and Buckman neighborhood associations hosted a community Zoom meeting with Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty that was well attended and very informative. Commissioner Hardesty oversees the Office of Community and Civic Life, which oversees the neighborhood association system, and the Bureau of Transportation. The RNA will host future meetings with the other Commissioners.
The RNA’s next meeting is Monday, April 12, 6:30-8:30 pm.
South Tabor Neighborhood Association
By Tina Kimmey
Spring is here and with it, some hope for a better year. With vaccinations rolling out for everyone soon (fingers crossed) we can start thinking again about what community activities to hold for the year. If you are interested in brainstorming or helping with upcoming events contact us at email@example.com.
South Tabor Neighborhood Association is holding annual elections in May via Zoom. We currently have an open seat for Vice Chair and this year we elect Chair and Secretary positions (two-year terms). If you are interested in any of these positions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or join us at our next board meeting.
Our Land Use committee next meets on Tuesday, April 13, and the Board meeting is Thursday, April 15; both are held 7-8:30 pm. Be sure to check out southtabor.org where we post agendas, Zoom links and meeting minutes for both meetings. See you soon!
Sunnyside Neighborhood Association
By Dave Boush
The March SNA general meeting hosted Heather Flint Chatto who spoke about building design in the neighborhood, especially along Hawthorne Blvd. and Belmont St. Complete with photos and illustrations, Heather explained the PDX Main Street Design Guidelines, pdxmainstreets.org/designguidelines, aimed at improving the fit between new infill and old buildings. Heather showed how structures built at different times and with different styles could fit together harmoniously. At the April general meeting, SNA will consider whether to adopt the guidelines which have been adopted by eight NAs and business districts for 12 SE main streets, including Hawthorne Blvd.
Building design has long been an interest of SNA. For history and context, search our website, sunnysideportland.org, using the term “land use docs.” I especially recommend Adopted Sunnyside Neighborhood Plan-1999. This is far from a dry planning document, rather a rich combination of history, architecture and neighborhood aspirations. Proposed building projects above a certain size are required to notify the appropriate NA and, although NAs do not have approval authority, SNA generally asks builders to present their project designs at our general meeting. They usually seem open to questions and suggestions, which could include design guidelines.
Johanna Brenner next spoke on the topic of increased civilian oversight of Portland police. Johanna advocated that the SNA endorse a letter recommending specific language in the PPB contract (see related article in this issue). The SNA encourages neighbors’ emailed opinions on the potential endorsement.
Taking up the final topic of the evening, the SNA continued its pursuit of pragmatic solutions to homelessness by endorsing the Committee on Safety and Livability to respond to the Joint Office of Homeless Services’ request for programmatic qualifications, ahomeforeveryone.net/news.
Both Heather and Johanna are scheduled to continue their respective topics at the April SNA general meeting Thursday, April 8, 7-9 pm. I hope to see you all there. Stay safe.